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Lloyd Rang Communications

Stratford's Better Business Consortium says that super-commuting unemployed workers to the community could be a potential solution to labour shortage.

January 25th, 2019 - Stratford, Ontario has a labour shortage – a highlight from a report released today by a group of Stratford manufacturers called the Better Business Consortium. While that won't come as a surprise to employers, the solution might; super-commuting.

In order to align labour supply with demand, a company called Blue Branch has been working with manufacturers in Stratford to connect them with workers hundreds of kilometres away, in high unemployment communities.

Employees "super-commute", which means they are flown into Stratford from out of town, given housing, and then flown back to visit their home town every few weeks.

While it might sound costly – and it is – but many employers are finding it better than the alternative. One member of the consortium that funded the study stated that they spent over $40,000 on advertizing to try to fill vacancies with little success. Another said their company placed a capital investment in another production line on hold, unable to fill current employee vacancies.

When compared to costs like that, supercommuting starts to make more sense The goal of flying unemployed Canadians in and out is to introduce workers to the Stratford community. After experiencing the community for themselves, it makes the prospect of moving across country or across province more imaginable.

Many Blue Branch super-commuters have made the move to become permanent citizen of Stratford. The Better Business Consortium, who commissioned the study, have said they'll be approaching the Federal Government with the idea to see if a pilot project can be funded to help subsidize transportation costs.

Bringing a Canadian off Employment Insurance and into a $45,000 a year job has a positive impact of $41,000 for governments. With numbers like that the consortium hopes to expand the number of super-commuters in Stratford, easing local labour shortages, all while saving government money that it would otherwise have spent on social assistance.

Supportive Quotes

"A qualified workforce is critical to business success. In areas of low unemployment an available workforce is scarce and creativity in workforce development is key. The team from Blue Branch offer companies a unique solution to their immediate workforce needs, and employment opportunities for individuals in areas where jobs aren't readily available. A Federal program that will offset costs associated with an extended commute will be a benefit for industry and reduce unemployment Nation-wide." - Joani Gerber, Stratford Economic Enterprise Development Corporation

Blue Branch is the only service that has been able to fulfill our needs. As a result, our businesses can meet demand, grow, and provide jobs to people who want to be working. We see Blue Branch as a key solution to the needs of our local economy" - Sid Perron, Vicwest Building Products

"We are very fortunate that our region is growing economically, but we are in a difficult position. We have companies that want to setup operations in Stratford, but this will put our current businesses in a very challenging and vulnerable position because of the labour shortage. We need a solution to our labour shortages that meet business needs and work with the municipality to plan long term. Blue Branch has been the perfect partner and has developed a solution designed to meet our needs and challenges. Blue Branch has become a critical player and contributor to the Stratford economy." - Dan Mathieson, Mayor of Stratford

"Stackpole has tried everything to address our labour needs. We have increased minimum wages, stopped using temp workers (we hire everyone directly now), use every staffing service in the area (private and non-profit), and spent $40k last year on a marketing campaign to attract talent. Nothing has consistently worked except for Blue Branch. Blue Branch's solution provided us 20 qualified workers quickly - we have found general labourers to licensed electricians through Blue Branch. We also love that this solution is helping people and communities in other parts of Canada. This is a real win-win solution for our business and Canada." - Tara Ross, Stakepole International

Last Updated: Friday, 25 January 2019 09:15:10 AM EST

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